Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/65

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37
THE DEPOSITION OF BLIGH.

considered Cooke "a northern bear" of autocratic principles. Cooke was specially likely to be unfavourable to Macarthur because he was a close ally of Sir Joseph Banks, one of Macarthur' s most powerful enemies.

The new Ministers sought a fresh legal opinion, this time from the Attorney and Solicitor-General. This was given in November, 1809.[1] They suggested that Johnston might be tried by court-martial in England for mutiny, as had already been advised. With regard to the civilians concerned, their crime was softened from "high treason" to mere "misdemeanour," as in the case of the four members of the Madras Council in 1779. The trials of these persons, however, must take place in New South Wales.

Meanwhile Macarthur was preparing for a great fight with Bligh. At one time he thought of procuring a seat in Parliament to forward his cause. At another he proposed to bring a civil action against him and claim £20,000 damages. All the time he was vastly over-rating the interest felt by the British public and the venom of his opponents.[2] The Colonial Office bided their time. In the autumn of 1810 the New South Wales Corps, now gazetted the 102nd Regiment, arrived. Paterson had died on the voyage and Johnston was ordered to rejoin and take command. In October, 1810, Bligh reached England.

In Bligh's absence in Van Diemen's Land, Macquarie had taken over the government at once in accordance with the instructions entrusted to him in such a case. Bligh had come up to Sydney in February, 1810, and from then until the middle of May had busied himself collecting evidence and deciding what witnesses he would take home with him. Government were to pay their expenses, and of course those in Government departments could be ordered to go with him. Altogether he took ten, six of whom were private individuals who went voluntarily. He was eager to bring the civilians who had taken part against him, and who were still in New South Wales, before the Criminal Court on charges of treason. Intense, therefore, was his disgust when the Judge-Advocate hesitated, doubting if the

  1. See H.R., VII., p. 229, 17th November, 1809.
  2. See H.R., VII., Macarthur's letters to his wife, p. 239, 28th November, 1809, and p. 453, 11th November, 1810.